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Why Devils Prospect Anton Silayev Won’t Ink Entry-Level Contract Yet

Nine first-round draft selections in the class of 2024 have inked entry-level deals. Don’t expect Anton Silayev to follow suit.

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New Jersey Devils
Anton Silayev, center, poses after being selected by the New Jersey Devils during the first round of the NHL hockey draft Friday, June 28, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Steve Marcus)

The 2024 NHL Draft was stacked with talent. Now that it’s over a week in the past, we’re beginning to see some of the prospects who were chosen in the first round sign entry level contracts. The San Jose Sharks inked the first overall selection, and the following two picks are now also under contract. There’s quite a few more who have signed as well, however, don’t expect Devils prospect, 10th overall selection Anton Silayev, to sign his entry-level contract quite yet.

Macklin Celebrini, Artyom Levshuno, and Beckett Senneke — the first three picks of the 2024 NHL Draft — have all signed their entry-level contracts. Celebrini is absolutely going to play for the Sharks next season and Levshuno is a good bet to play with the Chicago Blackhawks too. Senneke could see a nine-game stint with the Anaheim Ducks, but the option to send him back to juniors is there as well, thus preserving the full three years on his entry-level deal.

Certainly, Silayev — who was seen as a top-three talent despite falling to the Devils at 10th overall — could follow in their footsteps as well, right?

Well, Silayev is in a bit of a different situation. Just looking at the Devils’ roster after General Manager Tom Fitzgerald went to work on July 1st, the left-shot defenseman would be hard-pressed to take time away from any one of Jonas Siegenthaler, Luke Hughes, or the newly acquired Brenden Dillon.

The 18-year-old defenseman has two years remaining on his KHL contract. Via his translator to NJ.com, Silayev explained he sees the next two years in Russia as a good opportunity to continue to develop his game before taking the next step — the leap to the NHL.

“We said it to everybody: There’s not so many players that play right away at 18 or 19 years old in the NHL,” Alexey Dementyev explained to NJ.com on behalf of Silayev. “It takes a while to grow as a man to get mature until 21 or 22 years old. It will be the right time when he will turn 20 in two years to make that step — especially when he works with Igor Larionov.”

This isn’t unlike what fans are seeing with Devils prospect forward, Arseni Gritsyuk. The Devils selected Gritsyuk in the fifth round of the 2019 NHL Draft, 129th overall. He’s since remained in the KHL, playing at Russia’s highest level and has developed his game into one of the leagues better scoring wingers. In 50 games last season with SKA St. Petersburg, Gritsyuk potted 19 goals and 38 points in 50 regular season games. He later added four goals and six points in the KHL postseason.

The plan for Gritsyuk is to cross the pond from Russia to North America following the KHL 2024-25 season, six years after he was drafted by the Devils.

That timeline certainly will be shorter for Silayev who was drafted four rounds and 119 picks ahead of Gritsyuk as a player who possesses a higher ceiling, thus hastening his arrival to the NHL. Certainly, Fitzgerald had Silayev in mind when signing Dillon as a free agent as the veteran defenseman will have one year remaining on his Devils contract when Silayev is eligible to arrive in New Jersey.

I sense a mentor-mentee relationship coming in 2026-27.

So, although nine first round picks have inked entry deals, some even drafted after Silayev, the Devils prospect and his contract situation in the KHL doesn’t permit him to be under contract with New Jersey quite yet. Plus, he’s openly admitted his desire to develop a few more years in Russia’s top league. Although Russian prospect timelines could sometimes be a bit murky, expect Silayev’s North American arrival to be more similar to Matvei Michkov‘s timeline, as opposed to Gritsyuk’s.

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